Sunday Slant: Inside the trades and rumors

If the Vikings were bent on getting rid of Sage Rosenfels, a trade made financial sense, even if they didn't get much in return. The bigger risk might have actually been trading Darius Reynaud. And what about T.J. Houshmandzadeh? Plus, the players we especially like to return to the practice squad.

Sage Rosenfels never got to officially throw a pass for the Minnesota Vikings, but he certainly caught on with fans.

When the Vikings got only an undisclosed draft choice in 2011 and a conditional draft pick in 2012 by trading Rosenfels and Darius Reynaud to the New York Giants, head coach Brad Childress' popularity factor with the fans sunk even lower. The team that gave up a fourth-round pick for Rosenfels 18 months ago was getting little in return.

To make perception matters worse, Rosenfels had outplayed Tarvaris Jackson during preseason games over the last four weeks, but Childress continued to support Jackson, saying he saw progress in practices.

In games, however, that wasn't so apparent. Jackson was 12 for 26 (46.2 percent), throwing for 60 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions and had a 53 passer rating. Rosenfels completed 31 of 51 passes (60.8) for 402 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 111.7 rating.

But if Rosenfels wasn't going to gain Childress' vote of confidence for the No. 2 quarterback after that, trading him only made sense on several fronts:

  • First, rookie Joe Webb is clearly a quarterback worth trying to develop with his strong arm, big frame and speedy legs. Keeping four quarterbacks wasn't a legitimate option given concerns at other positions and a limited number (53) of roster spots available. The No. 3 quarterback never saw the field last year, and that's probably a good thing for Webb's long-term development.

  • Even if the Vikings had traded Rosenfels for a bag of rubber balls, trading him was better than releasing him because of his contract. He is scheduled to make $2.6 million in base salary this year, but $2 million of that is guaranteed. Trading him, even if only for a future low-round draft pick, took the low-revenue Vikings off the hook for that guarantee.

    So was trading Rosenfels the right move? From this vantage point, it appeared that Rosenfels was finally putting it all together for the Vikings while Jackson was continuing to struggle in games. Rosenfels was also signed beyond 2010, which isn't the case with starter Brett Favre or Jackson, so the Vikings are taking a big risk in keeping Jackson and kicking Rosenfels to the curb. But if they were getting rid of Rosenfels anyway, trading was the best of the bad options.


    The bigger issue in the Friday night trade to the New York Giants may be seen in the team's return game. When the Vikings shipped Darius Reynaud in the trade, they sent their best punt returner from 2009 and maybe their best 2010 option at kick returner.

    Percy Harvin made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner, but it's uncertain if the team will continue to work him there given his health issues. Special teams coordinator Brian Murphy said two weeks ago that no edict has come down that Harvin can't be used in that role, but do the Vikings want to put more wear on him, especially if more will be expected of him in a receiver role with Sidney Rice out until at least late October?

    Albert Young would seem to be a leading candidate to return kicks if Harvin doesn't, and Greg Camarillo and Asher Allen could be among those considered in the role of punt returner.


    By all accounts, the Seahawks were interested in trading receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but his escalating contract and decreasing production in 2009 were prohibitive to other teams showing an interest.

    When Houshmandzadeh entered unrestricted free agency in March 2009, the Vikings were hot on his trail. They brought him in for a visit, took him to dinner and made him an offer, but he infamously and publicly declined Minnesota's offer, saying that the Seahawks quarterback situation was much better than the Vikings' stable, which at that time didn't include Brett Favre.

    Since then, Seattle has turned to Pete Carroll, which has Houshmandzadeh and the Seahawks parting ways. So it was only natural for fans to connect the dots between Houshmandzadeh and the Vikings.

    However, just like things changed in Seattle, they also changed in Minnesota. Despite being without Sidney Rice until at least late October, the Vikings are pretty flush with slot receivers these days. Percy Harvin is optimistic his migraine headaches can be kept in check and Greg Camarillo has looked like a very solid acquisition in his limited action.

    And, frankly, the Vikings don't need another overpaid receiver. Houshmandzadeh's contract with Seattle included base salaries of $7 million this year, $8 million in 2011, $8.5 million in 2012 and $9 million in 2013.

    The Vikings are better off investing money in a long-term deal with Rice, who provides a bigger body on the outside and keeping Harvin and Camarillo, if Rice returns to full health following hip surgery. Taking on Houshmandzadeh's prohibitive contract in a trade wouldn't have been a wise alternative. If he's willing to sign for a lower rate now that he's a free agent, then let's talk.


    Of the Vikings released or waived on Saturday, here are those we like as possibilities to return to the practice squad late Sunday:

  • Colt Anderson: He's starting to show promise as a backup safety.

  • Patrick Brown: He could have a future as a developmental left tackle.

  • Ryan D'Imperio: He shows some athleticism in making the switch to fullback, but clearly he needs time to hone his technique.

  • Logan Payne: He's a nice insurance option if the Vikings have more problems with Harvin's headaches.

    The Vikings can add eight players to the practice squad and they will likely continue to tinker with their 53-man roster over the next day or two. The team returns to practice late Sunday morning in preparation for Thursday's nationally televised regular-season opener against the New Orleans Saints.

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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